The words you won’t learn in French Immersion

When attending a French Immersion or similar program for several years, you are bound to get teachers who speak various versions of the French language. Having grown up in France, I will share mostly words and expressions that come from what I know. However, I will also discuss what I have learned while talking to other francophones. Pretty much all of the language below will be considered slang, so informal, but none of it is rude. So go ahead, puzzle your teachers!


Emberlificoté: I just love that word. I hadn’t used it for a long time but it somehow came to my mind recently. I taught it to my daugthers who mentioned it to their respective French teachers, none of whom had heard of it before! It’s a cool sounding word but has a literal and a figurative meaning. Literally, it means tangled up, referring to something like your ipod earphones (!). Figuratively, it means confused.

“Ah la vache!“: that’s the French cousin of “Holy cow!”, it can be used instead of the iconic “Oh la la!”.

Carotter: une carotte means a carrot, that’s an easy one. However, carotter means to cheat. Don’t ask me why though…

Un pépin: every student will learn that the word refers to a seed found in fruit that you eat. That’s one meaning. I’m not sure that your teacher knows that it has two other meanings. It also means an incident of some kind, something not overly serious like a flat tire or a plan that fell through at the last minute. The third meaning is… an umbrella. I know, why?  There you are, learn one word, use it in three completely different context. That’s efficient!



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